Monday, June 1, 2020

Really simple roleplaying game

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Without further ado, here's a list of some of the really rules-lite rpgs I like. And of course, they're pretty similar.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

C-ADRPG: Amber Diceless as rules engine for cyberpunk: version 2

(c) 92 Ken Alves, from Amberzine 2

My last blog post tried to interpret the Amber Diceless rules as written, so they could work as rules for a cyberpunk game. Today's post is the result of further tests. I think C-ADRPG works smoother now.

  • Warfare, Strength and Endurance are self-explanatory and stay. Psyche is psychic resilience. [Human] level is really, really weak, [Chaos] level is the standard of your faceless mooks, and [Amber] and Ranked levels are professional level attributes.

  • MOVER (Pattern Imprint) [50]: your connections, getting things done, I know a guy who knows a guy, fast travel capacity and resources. 
  • ADVANCED MOVER (Advanced Pattern Imprint) [75]: knowing a few really, really big names in the biz 
  • AUGMENTATION (Logrus Mastery) [45]: your cyberware, bioware, nanoware, you name it. With the full 45-point package, you're stuffed with ware, and you have to specify what chrome you're wearing. 
  • FULL AUGMENTATION (Advanced Logrus Mastery) [70]: a full cyborg-body mod, or packed to the eyelids with cyberware.
  • PARTIAL AUGMENTATION (Fixed Logrus Mastery) [25]: like Full Augmentation, but you have way less ware in your body. Tell the GM what you have. Be reasonable.
  • NETRUNNING AUG (Trump Artistry) [40]: your skill, instincts and augmentations that enable you to hack, extract data, and do stuff script kiddies can only dream of. 
  • ADVANCED NETRUNNING (Advanced Trump Artistry) [60]: If you're chipped to the hilt, stuffed with biosofts and brain-enhancement nanotech so you can be the fastest man in the matrix, I guess that would count as Advanced Trump Artistry.
  • DELIVERY PRIME ACCOUNT (Conjuration) [20]: expedite drone delivery of stuff you order; small items like ammo clips or burners will arrive pretty fast, bigger/heavier stuff requires a heavier and slower drone. Really big and heavy items can take several days or weeks – if they're available. Your GM knows. Thanks to zircher from therpgsite for this cool idea.
  • ARTEFACTS will be toned down and grittier in scope, no Transfer costs.
  • SHADOWS become residences, apartments, houses.
  • .
  • .
  • Outlier I: Shapeshifting is not used for pure cyberpunk games, but could be extremely useful when playing Shadowrun – it then becomes PHYSICAL ADEPT [35]. The more advanced and powerful version would be ADVANCED PHYSICAL ADEPT (Advanced Shapeshifting) [65].
  • Outlier 2: SORCERY [15] would also be used for Shadowrun games, and not even the name would change. But only when you're using ADVANCED SORCERY [45], your spells are as quick as you wish they were, and if you want to throw your Hellblasts real good, you better get EXALTED SORCERY [70].
  • Outlier 3: POWER WORDS [10] are exactly that, little, small-scale spells in Shadowrun.

I might also NOT use Partial Augmentation and grant a character one or two enhancements for free.

So there you have it, my C-ADRPG in a nutshell. More to come, for sure.

An example Cyberpunk character:


Warfare 10
Strength 5
Endurance: 5
Psyche 5

FULL AUGMENTATION [70]: full-body kevlar-reinforced plating, titanium brain shielding, industrial-strength muscle grafts, tac-implants, hydraulic legs, titanium-reinforced bone structure.

Safehouse in the abandoned barracks (5 pts)
  • personal shadow 1 pt
  • guarded 4 pts

Friday, May 1, 2020

Diceless and randomless cyberpunk – with Amber Diceless RPG

Michael Kucharski, ADRPG page 87
After a loooooong foray into OD&D and some of its precursors, we've returned to our roots: diceless roleplaying and freeform gaming. After many, many years, we're playing diceless again. And it already feels exciting!

We're playing hard Cyberpunk, with a dash of magic (don't ask, my players want it). My first reaction was: OK, I'm going to write a few quick rules for that (usually a haphazard job of slapping Theatrix flowcharts and Everway attributes together). But then, my love for Amber kicked in. I thought: Why not use Amber to power our game? And my second thought was: Why not use the rules as written, as much as possible?

My thoughts:

  • Warfare, Strength and Endurance are self-explanatory and stay. Psyche is resilience (OR, if my players insist on playing a dark Shadowrun-type of game, it stays what it is). [Human] level is really, really weak, [Chaos] level is the standard of your faceless mooks, and [Amber] and Ranked levels are professional level attributes.
  • PATTERN are your connections, getting things done, I know a guy who knows a guy, fast travel capacity and resources. For Shadowrun, it's also your ability to defend against psychic attacks.
  • LOGRUS becomes hacking, data extraction, everything related to the matrix
  • TRUMP is the ability to reach anyone by means of communication. Your buddy is in the middle of the desert, without electronics and no cyberware in his skull? No worries, you satellite tight-beam an information bit directly into his cortex.
  • SORCERY and CONJURATION are self-explanatory.
  • ARTEFACTS will also include cyberware, with the qualities toned down to a gritty level.
  • SHADOWS become residences, apartments, houses.

I think this will work pretty well. 

An example character:


Warfare 10
Strength 5
Endurance: 5
Psyche 5

Pattern 50

Industrial Strength Muscle Implants (9 pts)

  • immense vitality 4 points
  • resistant to normale weapons 1 pt
  • deadly damage 4 pts
  • (I don't use the Transferal costs)

Tactical Implant (10 pts)

  • Combat Mastery 4 pts
  • resistant to firearms 2 pts
  • speak in tongues + voices 4 pts

Safehouse (6 pts)

  • personal shadow 1 pt
  • guarded 4 pts
  • control of contents 1 pt

Sunday, April 26, 2020

I revised the Landshut Troika! rules: now – better, faster, simpler

The Landshut Troika! adaption has gotten a whole lot better. A huge big thankyou goes out to Jared Sinclair. His suggestion is responsible that I WANT TO play Troika! again. Yes, it's that serious :)

Yesterday, on the Troika! discord, I asked:

And then, the suggestions rolled in:

So, if you're interested: go there.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Darkworm Colt is now on Patreon!

It took me a long time to make up my mind about publishing on Patreon… and now, I finally convinced myself to do it. is the address, and I'd be glad if you joined. There's only one tier (The Mighty Darkworm), and it's $1 for each creation.

Thank y'all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Free Abenteuerspiel

I'm feeling my way back to my roleplaying roots: freeform gaming. I started refereeing in 1984, but my way of GM’ing changed only seven years later, when Amber Diceless was published. A little later, Theatrix was born. These two games, and later, Everway, catapulted me into the world of diceless (and sometimes, randomlesy) gaming. Or group's best and most enduring memories have their origins in diceless freeform. 

Some of you may know the term "Free Kriegsspiel". I fun this way of freeform gaming, either with or without randomizers, "free Abenteuerspiel". 

Today I would like to look at a typical conflict from the perspective of Theatrix. How does it handle fights? 

Theatrix has, besides Amber and Everway, the most comprehensive tips for a diceless game.  One of the ingenious innovations of Theatrix were flowcharts, with which the (beginner) GM could quickly and reliably determine whether actions of player characters succeed or fail.  A while ago I extended this flow chart by the aspect of RANDOMNESS, in case the gamemaster wants to include dice or cards (Everway) in his decision.  The graphic above is this extended decision diagram.

Let's get started!

The situation:
The player character is in Naples, somewhere in the shady thicket of alleys.  It's lunchtime, the sun is burning from the sky, and whoever can, has sought shelter in the shadows.  Everywhere in the city there are chairs outside, people are enjoying their coffee, fruit dealers have put out their small stands, tourists are buzzing around.

Our character turns the corner, overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, and suddenly a huge guy in a dark suit and sunglasses is standing opposite him, with clearly hostile intent.  The character turns around and wants to run away, but behind him there is also a broad-shouldered man with sunglasses.

Our character is ex - special forces. He has no tools (not even a car key) with him that he could use to his advantage. 

The two gangsters represent a roughly equal threat to our character.  They are a clear challenge.  A direct attack against them would not end well for our ex-wife forces guy.

As the game master, I now take a look at the flowchart l. 

First box:  Does the plot line require some particular outcome?

No, I didn't plan anything like that as game master.

Second box:  Do you want to evoke some randomness?

No, I do not want to use random generators for this conflict.

Third box: Skill vs. Difficulty.  Are they capable of the action?

As the game master, I can now decide whether to treat the conflict as a single, entire scene (and therefore use the flowchart only once), or whether I judge each individual action of the character.  I go for the second variant.

Game master: So the two guys are in front and behind you.  The whole alley is full of people, all close together.  What are you doing?

Gambler (grabs his heart, gasps, lets his tongue hang out, slurs out loud, then:)  I stagger like this towards one of the thugs.

Gamemaster (notices that the player is acting really well for his circumstances - that's one of the criteria in the decision making process:  How well does the player act?  If he acts badly by his own standards, his character's action is considered a failure.  But with this rule, we have seen many a player transforming from wallflower to actor in the long years of our game):  The guy recedes, irritated, and perhaps a little disgusted.

Player: Cool!  When I am very close...

Game master: Yes, now you are very close to him.

Player: ...then I grab his balls and squeeze with all my strength.  (gestures) My other hand grabs his throat and squeezes.

Again, the box: Skill vs. Difficulty.  Are they capable of the action?

Definitely.  The character is experienced in combat.  Dirty tricks are part of his standard repertoire.

Next box:  Release the Tension and tell them now?

I choose "more tension".  The corresponding box is "Give them reason to Doubt.  Let Victory be Uncertain.  And the victory is not yet in the bag - the other gangster is still around.

Game master (acting out the futile resistance of the gangster against our guy's technique, gasping for air, flailing around with his arms, and finally collapsing onto the ground):  The guy collapses lifelessly in your arms.  You hear some terrified screams from bystanders.  The other thug is leaping at you.

Player: Oh! Oh! I push the one I just KOed into him, with full force! Let's get out of here!

And again the box: Skill vs. Difficulty.  Are they capable of the action?

Are they capable of the action?  Any normal-built adult can shove another normal-built adult anywhere. So, yes. 

Next box:  Release the Tension and tell them now?

Again, I decide to let the player sweat a little more.

So the next box is, again: "Give them reason to Doubt.  Let Victory be Uncertain.

Now I can, for instance, add a wild chase through the city, if I want to. But regardless: our character will be successful. 

How Erick Wujcik gamemastered Amber

I am particularly grateful to Erick Wujcik for three things.

First, for writing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (among so many other books). I grew up with the real Turtles comics, not the child-oriented, pizza-eating funny green turtlemen on television. The game gave me so many ideas. Thanks for that.

And second, I'm grateful for Amber Diceless. This game has influenced me like no other. This game brought me to free-form role playing. This game, in its more than 250 pages (almost all of them with tips for gamemasters), introduced me to Amber – I discovered the books after the game, in 1991.

In a rather interesting discussion on an Amber Diceless forum I asked the question how gamemasters use the rules in-play. While I either play it by the book or totally freeform, the question came up how Erick actually played Amber.

Finarvyn, an Amber Diceless (and OD&D) veteran who often played with Erick, responded (emphasis added by me):

Well, in my experience Erick didn't ever look at a rulebook. Heck, he hardly ever looked at our character sheets. 
I think he built a general "character concept" in his head - this guy is good here but bad there, that kind of thing - and then just let us play. It seemed like he would simply decide based on if we tried clever things or not when we had the chance to act out our actions. When I talked to him about rules I got the impression that he bent or broke them on a whim if it made the storyline progress better and made the game more fun. He always seemed to put the story above the mechanics.

All the more reason why I feel so connected to him.